A former UK Government minister has taken the current regime to task for repeatedly changing who is in charge of the energy brief.
Brian Wilson described the “churn” of MPs in post as an “absolute disgrace”, arguing that energy is too important an area to be at the whim of reshuffles.
It was announced last week that, as part of a wider cabinet reorganisation, Grant Shapps would be stepping down as energy secretary.
Former-children’s minister Claire Coutinho has been appointed to the role, marking the third MP to hold the office in less than a year.
‘A lack of respect’
“To have an industry as important as this, which is just a by-product of reshuffles – and sometime you get half decent one, and sometimes you get one who isn’t interested – it’s a lack of respect,” Mr Wilson told an Offshore Europe working lunch on Tuesday.
He added: “I used to come to these events when I was a minister, and I was always really conscious of how people felt disrespected by the fact that ministers came and went.
“Industry would spend so much time explaining, teaching and educating ministers, and then they were gone like that, often for no good reason.
“One piece of advice to an incoming Labour government, is give someone the remit for five years, and if they’re useless after two then get rid of them.
“But the principle is that you give them long enough to learn a very complex subject, and to make decision that are based on learnings. For something that is as complex and important as energy, that’s really important.”
Mr Wilson served as a Labour MP for 18 years and held five Ministerial posts, including two years as the minister for industry and energy.
During his tenure he was a strong supporter of renewable energy, including nuclear power, and advocated for a balanced supply featuring numerous sources.
Thoughts on a net zero referendum
He was also asked about his thoughts on whether there should be a referendum on the UK’s plans to become net zero by 2050.
Rishi Sunak recently snubbed calls for a vote on the matter, amid anti-green energy pressure from the likes of Nigel Farage.
“I generally don’t think there should be referendums on anything,” Mr Wilson said wryly, before adding “but there certainly shouldn’t be one on net zero, because it’s an impossible problem to vote on – it has 1000 different strands.
“There is also a fair chance the public would vote against it, but it just doesn’t lend itself to a referendum because, more than any other policy areas, you need leadership, not populist voices.”